President Donald Trump’s hopes of a delayed 2020 election were dashed Thursday after Congressional Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flatly rejected his suggestion.
Trump tweeted earlier in the day that carrying out the general election primarily via mail-in ballots opens the door to potential voter fraud and “will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
McConnell confirmed to a local Kentucky reporter that the Nov. 3 election date is “set in stone.”
“Never in the history of this country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” he added. “We will find a way to do that again this November 3rd. We will cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on November 3rd as already scheduled.”
Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley of Iowa offered a similar take.
“It doesn’t matter what an individual in this country says,” he told reporters in reference to Trump’s tweets. “We still are a country based on the rule of law, we must follow the law until either the Constitution is changed or until the law is changed.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during his weekly press conference that “no way” should the election be delayed.
“I understand the president’s concern with mail-in voting, which is different than absentee voting,” he told reporters. “But never in the history of federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward with our election.”
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz echoed McCarthy’s comments, telling reporters that he views election fraud as a “serious problem” but that he thinks the election should still be held on Nov. 3.
Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, the ranking member on the House committee responsible for all matters pertaining to federal elections, also flat-out rejected the president’s soft proposal.
Trump’s suggestion was widely criticized by both Republicans and Democrats on the grounds that the Executive Branch has no control over when federal elections are held. The Constitution grants that power to Congress.
Hypothetically, members of Congress could delay the 2020 election like Trump suggested, but as noted by McCarthy, that has never been done.
Trump is currently trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in both national and battleground election polls. Trump frequently discounts the accuracy of polling, citing the substantial margin by which he trailed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton throughout the entire 2016 election.
He also told reporters in North Carolina that his reelection campaign’s internal polls show him leading Biden in key battleground states.
“Four years ago, I was losing everywhere. I had poll numbers where I wasn’t going to win any state, and I ended up winning every one of them,” he stated. “You know the swing states, I wasn’t going to win any of them and I won all of them.”
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